Southwest offers virtual classes to students

Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Alternate education for students helps ensure graduation

The Southwest school district is making steps toward higher rates of graduates with the program Edgenuity, which offers students online classes for an alternate education.

Tosha Tilford, Southwest school superintendent, said the virtual school Edgenuity can be used for both credit recovery and enrichment. 

“Southwest High School instituted virtual school in 2012-2013 with the program called PLATO,” Tilford said. “It was primarily used for credit recovery, but there were some students who used the program for credit advancement and academic enrichment.”

According to Tilford, these courses are not easier than the courses offered at Southwest high school, but can be tailored to each student's individual needs. 

“Virtual school is very costly for the district,” Tilford said. “The benefits to the students outweighs the costs.”

Tilford said PLATO was used for two school years, then Scott Regional Technology Center was able to enter into a contract where all the schools in the consortium could have access to Edgenuity.

“Edgenuity offers the same type of educational opportunities for the students,” Tilford said. “Since there are 15 schools in the consortium, this makes Edgenuity much more affordable than PLATO.”

Samantha Coupland, Southwest high school counselor, said the students can go at their own pace, and it keeps them on track.

“It helps my students who are falling behind or at risk for dropping out,” Coupland said. “This is a way to keep these students in here and get them graduated.”

According to Coupland, the main goal is to make it possible in every way for all students to graduate high school.

“Every course that is normally taught is available to students through Edgenuity,” Coupland said. “We have not run into any issues yet.”

Coupland said the teachers go through the standards from the courses on Edgenuity, and the teachers then compare that to guidelines from the state of Missouri.

“The courses are built for the student with those standards and guidelines,” Coupland said. “So, there isn’t really an instructor, they are more of self-taught courses.”

According to Coupland, the school pays a portion of the cost to vo-tech for Edgenuity.

“There is no cost to the students to use Edgenuity,” Coupland said. “I would say that upward of 30-40 students in the high school use this program.”

According to Coupland, the entire senior class is using Edgenuity to take pre-calculus.

“Although the program can be used to help students who need or want to graduate early, the school district really makes sure the students are absolutely prepared for career or college life to ensure success,” Coupland said.

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